Looming humanitarian crisis in Vanni

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 July 2008, 11:25 GMT]
45,338 additional persons have been displaced in Mannar, Vavuniyaa, Ki'linochchi, and Mullaitivu districts, due to the shelling and aerial bombardment by th Sri Lanka Security Forces in the last four weeks, adding to the Internally Displaced People (IDP) population of 107,048 in Vanni, said a report released by the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO). The report warned that the restrictions imposed by the Government of Sri Lanka to humanitarian agencies to attend to the IDP needs have created conditions for an imminent humanitarian crisis in Vanni.

"Prior to the recent displacement most sectors had the minimum stocks necessary to address the needs of the IDPs but there was limited amount of contingency stocks available for any new IDPs. Stocks available in the Vanni are now dangerously low, especially in the food, shelter, water & sanitation and health (WASH) sectors," the report said, adding, "[t]he ability of all humanitarian organizations operating in the Vanni to provide humanitarian assistance to IDPs and other vulnerable populations is greatly compromised by the GoSL fuel quotas."

The embargoes and restrictions are violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), International Human Rights Law (IHRL) and the Geneva Conventions, the report pointed out.

"Entire schools have also been displaced as a result of the return to war. The teachers and principals of these schools have also been displaced and have had to leave without their educational items (books, chairs, desks etc.) These schools are, where possible, functioning on the premises of existing schools in the areas into which the IDP population has displaced.

"Classes are conducted under the trees and in temporary classrooms constructed from locally available natural materials. Due to the parents’ fear of shelling and bombing many parents are reluctant to send their children to school and as a result attendance is down in many schools," the report said.

TRO urged the International Community to "hold the GoSL accountable for violations of IHL and IHRL and ensure that humanitarian assistance and access are unimpeded," and thanked the Tamil Diaspora for "its ongoing support," and requested the Diaspora to continued to provide necessary support, and to raise awareness among the developed nations of the suffering of the people of the NorthEast.


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